A Canadian mourning the loss of her friend caught what will likely be one of the Major League Baseball season's most historic home run balls, during a recent game at Detroit's Comerica Park.
Ally McCabe, and nearly 150 other friends and family were at Comerica celebrating the life of a friend and huge Tigers fan who recently died. While at the early-season game, she caught a historic Miguel Cabrera home run ball. It was the 2,000th hit of the slugger's career, which will likely land him in the Hall of Fame.
McCabe, from LaSalle, Ont., just west of Windsor, had never been to a ball game. She was at Comerica on Friday as part of an extended funeral for lifelong Tigers fan Robert Lucier. Lucier's sons, Rob and Chris, planned the trip.
"My father’s the biggest baseball fan I know. We thought the best way to memorialize him was to have some friends go to the ballgame," Rob Lucier said.
During the Tigers' 10-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles, McCabe, who grew up across the street from the Luciers, wandered away from the crowd to see more of the ballpark.
Twice already during her impromptu tour of the park, home run balls landed in her vicinity — the first six metres away from her, the second just two metres away. But it was the third one that mattered most and landed closest.
"I remember thinking, ‘Oh, Lord, if you could get a ball to land and let the [Lucier] boys pick up, that would be great.’ But I didn’t realize home run balls don’t just land in your lap," McCabe said.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, McCabe was standing behind the bullpen in left field when Cabrera, the reigning American League MVP, came to bat.
"I didn’t even realize who was up," McCabe said.
Cabrera crushed a pitch right toward McCabe, who was standing directly behind the Tigers' bullpen.
"I thought, 'Oh my goodness, that ball is coming right at me,'" McCabe said. "I thought, 'How am I going to catch this ball?’"
McCabe, who plays roller derby, tucked in her arms, swung out her hip and knocked the ball to the ground.
Fans flocked to the ball, but McCabe "hip-blocked" them from getting the ball, reached down and picked it up.
In the video, you can see McCabe get hit by the ball.
"I didn’t know who hit the ball. I didn’t know it was his 2,000th hit. I only knew I caught a ball," McCabe said.
Tigers players and coaches in the bullpen immediately began encouraging her to give the ball to Cabrera — and she did.
"My dad would have given it back as well," said Rob Lucier, who has been going to Tigers games for 46 years and had never caught a ball.
A Tigers rep arrived on scene to take McCabe's personal information and promise a package of Tigers goods in return for the ball.
"I was thinking, ‘Wow, they make a big deal out of home runs here,’" McCabe said. "I was thinking, ‘Wow, every person gets this, who catches a ball?’"
Lucier had no real way to describe Friday's events.
"It may sound a little corny, but calling it a baseball miracle sounds good to me," he said.